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Airman Steps Up, Fills Band's Vacancy

SOUTHWEST ASIA -- When Senior Airman Jamie Horner first stepped off the airplane in Southwest Asia, she had one mission in mind: to prepare the installation for natural disasters and enemy attacks as a 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron emergency manager.

Little did she know her vocal talents in music would open up an opportunity to sing alongside the Air Force Central Band.

It all began when Horner signed up and competed in the 379th Force Support Flight singing competition, "The Voice." The three finalists performed two songs, one a cappella and the other with the AFCENT Band, Vector.

"We instantly recognized the quality of her voice," said Master Sgt. Steven Schaughency, AFCENT Band director of operations. "She has a very full voice, which is a gift and natural ability. We also noticed she has experience with different musical styles other than pop and rock. She's not a one trick pony."

The stars were beginning to align for Horner as the band was currently missing their female vocalist, who was not able to deploy. Horner's vocal range seemed to be a perfect fit for what the band was lacking.

"We involved her into about 25 percent of what the band plays," said Schaughency. "We initially wanted to know if she could pick up the music quickly and we found out she had no problem with that. She is a very quick study,  always willing to learn and try new things."

Horner practices with Vector two to three times every week, when the band is in the local area. Due to importance of Horner's deployment responsibilities, she isn't able to travel with Vector across the area of responsibility. This doesn't stop Horner from soaking in the experiences of playing with a band full of professional musicians.

"It has been truly unbelievable working with this great group of talented people," said Horner, deployed from Joint Base Andrews, Md. "I have learned so much in the short time we've been working together. They are so talented that if I make a mistake with my tune, they can adjust on the fly to correct my mistake."

Horner may not have the trained experience of those she performs with, but her natural talent has made many people think she's had years of training.

"When I first saw Airman Horner perform with the band at the club, I had no idea she wasn't a full-time professional; she was that poised and that good," said Lt. Gen. David Goldfein, Air Forces Central commander. "No doubt she's been a tremendous addition."

Although this opportunity came by pure chance while deployed, this isn't her first brush with stardom. In 2010, Horner was a member of Tops in Blue, the Air Force's premiere entertainment showcase consisting of 35 to 40 amateur vocalists, musicians, dancers and technicians who perform for military families across the world.

"Working with Tops in Blue gave me the confidence and stage presence to perform in front of large audiences," said Horner. "I have always loved singing and I'm so thankful Vector has given me the opportunity to work with them."

Vector, featuring Horner, wrapped up their final performance in Southwest Asia during Monte Carlo Night Aug. 18.

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